M is for Mycket

M is for “Mycket”. This is a very useful word in Swedish, and means “much”.

And the English and Swedish words are closely related. The English one much goes back to the Old English “mycel”, brought over by the Anglo-Saxons when they invaded Roman Britain from Scandinavia in the 5th century.

The Swedish word goes back to the old Norse “Mikil”, which meant “big” and these all trace their roots back to ancient Indo-European, related to the Sanskrit Maha, as in Maharishi, and the Greek “Mega”. And in fact, a thousand years ago, when Vikings wandered down to Constantinople and signed up with the Byzantine Emperor’s bodyguard, they were so impressed with his capital that they called it “Miklagård”, which means Mega-City.

You hear mycket a lot when you listen to Swedish, often shortened to just “mycke” in spoken language. As in “Tack så mycket”, Thanks so much, or many thanks. Swedes tend to thank each other a lot, especially during the crucial interplay between cashier and buyer during a transaction at a store.

And then there’s the ever popular “Hur mycket är klockan”, “How much is the clock”, which is the Swedish way of saying “What time is it?”.